December 2nd, 2018

PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT

As a full-time pro for over 25 years, the gear I take on assignment depends on what is needed. Contrary to what it might look like, I prefer to work with the minimum amount of equipment.

My personal kit is a Leica Q with a fixed 28mm f1.7 Summilux lens. Often, I’ll add a Leica M-E rangefinder with a 50mm or 90mm lens for the option of a tighter crop. If I feel really adventurous, I’ll carry along my DJI Mavic Pro 2 drone with its 28mm fov Hasselblad lens.

Being familiar with the gear is most important to me. To that end, I’ve always carried some form of Leica in my kit – a camera I’ve used since 1979.

When Leica discontinued their SLR system in 2009, I switched to the autofocus Canon EOS DSLR. I carry a minimum of three Canon digital camera bodies for my editorial and commercial work now, each with its own lens attached. They are normally mounted with 16-35mm f/4 IS-L, 50mm f/1.4, and a 70-200mm f/2.8 II IS-L lens. A 250D close-up lens converts the 50mm into a usable macro. A 1.4X extender III makes for a longer and closer focusing telephoto.

Specialty lenses like Canon’s 14mm f2.8 EF-L II, 15mm f/2.8 fisheye, 24mm f/1.4 L II, 35mm f/2 IS-II, 24-105 f4 IS-L, and 500mm f4 IS L are enlisted as needed. Leica’s discontinued 80mm f/1.4 R-lens has the best bokeh around and was adapted to my Canon cameras. The Leica 180mm f3.4 APO-R lens continues to be one of the lightest solutions for a longer telephoto with outstanding rendering, so it’s my back up.

One or more Gitzo tripods are implemented with a ball head/pan head and cable release. GoPros and DJI drones are employed for specialized filmmaking and unusual still angles. Most of the time, 18 MP is all you need (it’s as good as a scan from Kodachrome 25). 24 MP is better. 50 MP is even nicer, especially in the studio. The Canon 5D SR performs extremely well in this regard. I’ll also shoot with a medium format digital system when appropriate or as requested.

The Profoto B1X 500 and Godox 600 have proven ideal for portable flash, so a pair or two of these is added to the kit as needed. A pair of Canon Speedlites with modifiers provide supplementary fill. A Zacuto Z-finder and a Rode microphone handle basic video. My Apple Macbook Pro with two Lacie external hard drives is essential.

Photography equipment is simply a tool. Seeing and having something to say are MUCH more important. That said, I look for gear that is not only of the highest quality, lightweight, and easy to use, but also produces characterful rendering.

Note: The following list is constantly being updated

**

I. MAIN KIT:

#1 DP Carry On – Rolling Pelican Case

Leica Q camera with 28mm 1.7 Asph-IS lens – on person
Canon EOS 5D Mk III camera
Canon EOS 5DS R
Canon 16-35mm f4 EF-L IS lens
15mm f2.8 EF lens
Canon 35mm f2 EF IS-II lens
Canon 70-200mm f2.8 EF-L IS II lens
Canon Tele-Extender 1.4X III
Canon Tele-Extender 2X III
250D close-up lens
Extra storage cards, batteries, chargers
Polarizers, ND filters, remote release
Sensor cleaning kit
Empty backpack

DP Additonal Carry On (Filson Wet Bag):

Canon EOS 1DX Mk II camera w/ spare batteries
Canon 50mm f1.4 EF lens
DJI Mavic Pro 2 drone w/ spare batteries
Mac Book Pro
Lacie Hard Drives
Headphones, music, sunscreen, eye drops, passport, phone, wallet, money, papers

#2 Asst. Carry On – Pelican Case

Canon EOS 1DX camera
Canon EOS 5D Mk III camera
Canon 24-105mm f4 EF-L IS lens – on person
Canon 24mm f1.4 EF-L II lens
GoPro 3+ Black w/ bacpac battery and viewer, plus mounts (X3)
VarioColor LED
Zacuto Z-finder, Rode microphone
Portable 8-track recorder
More storage cards and batteries
Gaffer tape

Asst. Additonal Carry On (Backpack):

Clothes, passport, money, computer & external HD, dopp kits

#3 Checked Bag – Pelican Cases in Filson Wet Duffel Bag

Gitzo 320 tripod w/ Micro-D 360 ball head
Gitzo 226 tripod w/ Leica ball head
Battery chargers
Rhino slider
Profoto B1X and Godox 600 portable lighting kit, Pocket Wizards, flash adaptor rings
Canon 600EX-RT flash units
Interfit battery
Leica SF20 flash
Soft boxes, light stands, sandbags
Tenba or backpack shoot bag

#4 Checked Bag – Pelican Case or Rolling Cooler

Leica 180mm f3.4 APO-R lens converted to Canon
Leica 80mm f1.4 R or Nikkon 105 f2.5 AI lens converted to Canon (as needed)
Leica 18mm f4 and 135mm M-lens (as needed)
Canon 14mm f2.8 EF-L II lens (as needed)
Canon 500mm f4 EF-L IS lens (as needed)
Zacuto Z-finder, Rode microphone (back up)
DJI Mavic Air drone w/ spare batteries (back up)
More clothes
More GoPros, batteries, chargers, mounts
Bogen fluid head
Leitz table tripod, Super Clamps, and ball head
Charging accessories

**

II. SECOND KIT: BIGGER PRODUCTIONS

As needed. All of the above, plus another assistant:

Portable automotive studio
Mathews suction cups and Manfrotto Super Calmps
Marshall monitor, cables
Rode Blimp with Sennheiser shotgun microphone
Soft boxes for ProFoto
A/C Flash, soft boxes
Tungsten Lighting: Lowell Tota-light kit
Daylight Lighting: LED lights, Westcott 150W Ice Light
Portable Studio: Overhead Silk, Backdrops and free-standing support stands
Manfrotto Avenger C stands, Super Clamps sand bags
Camera Car, Harness
Broom, ladder
Budget

More for Production Video:

Gitzo 400 or 500 tripod and large Bogen fluid head
KenLab Gyrostabilizer
Roxant Pro camera stabilizer for GoPro
Wimberly head
More Leica R fixed lenses converted to Canon
Zacuto eyepieces, Marshall monitors and hoods
Hasselblad Pro lens shades, filter adapters
Leitz table tripod with ball head, dolly roller
Handgrip, roller table, light meter
Budget

III. THIRD KIT: BIGGEST PRODUCTIONS

As needed, All of the above, plus two or more strong assistants:

More Gear for Stills (All Rented):

Medium format digital cameras and lenses (various)
More portable ARRI and AC flash systems
More light stands, soft boxes, umbrellas and grids
Analog: Leica M system, Leica SL/R system, Canon EOS, Hasselblad V system, Fuji G617, Nikonos IV
Budget

More Gear for Video (All Rented):

Steady Cam and operator
Canon C300 cameras, Arri Mini, Alexa and/or Red Epic with Leica lenses
Bron Kobold or Joker Bug HMI
Marshall monitors, audio rigs
Various handgrips, rigs, sticks, sliders, rollers & dollies
More Drones
Chase Car
Budget

**

Note that there is back up redundancy throughout. After the shoot, the used digital cards stay in a secure holder inside a zippered vest pocket on my person. As soon as I return to my hotel, the RAW files are backed up on my computer, Dropbox, and two hard drives. The drives are kept in different locations, or one is FedExed home. I love what I do, but I’ve also learned not to assume anything.